Anyway, we attended the lecture portion of the class this evening, and spent the whole class period passing notes to each other, with the result that I completely missed all the information about the four different types of volcanoes. (No matter; I looked up the information online afterward, and I'm sure Susan will happily repeat it to me anytime I ask, since she already knew all of it long ago.) The camping trip portion will be the weekend after this one.
Various stuff has happened since I last wrote. My unemployment ran out, but I applied for an extension and got it, because of the terrible economy and the federal economic stimulus package; the extension should last until December. I also took an exam to qualify for a position in the California state government, and passed in the first rank, meaning that no one else scored higher than I did; however, 5,885 other people scored equally as high as I did. That's statewide, so it's not as if all 5,885 of them are competing against me in my own local area, but it's still an intimidatingly high number. And the California state government is, um, pretty much bankrupt, so it seems a little odd to be wanting to work for them.
I'm really tired of sending out all these resumes and cover letters all the time and not having received any expression of apparent interest since the job interview I had in February. I'm pretty sure the reason for the lack of interest is that I'm really just a little bit overqualified for most of the job openings being advertised, so the companies figure I'll be more expensive than they can afford. But there are hardly ever any job openings for my salary level; I was sort of at an awkward intermediate career level between "cheap" and "sufficiently established to be hired at the management level" when I got laid off. I've tried attempting to make myself look less expensive, both by downplaying my experience supervising others and by stating outright that I'd be willing to take a pay cut, but it hasn't seemed to help. The California state government is the only employer that looks as if, if it did hire me, it might be willing to hire me at a level that wouldn't be a pay cut. That's because they don't really hire many people at all who are at lower career levels, at least in my career field.
Meanwhile, on the gardening front, I've been frantically trying to eradicate the bermudagrass from the back yard before the winter rains make it impossible for me to kill any more of it - but I'm increasingly certain I'll never finish in time. And in the front yard, our next-door neighbors helpfully volunteered to mow our lawn, but also happened to mow every single leaf off both my Datura plants. (Right when the native one had been about to bloom again!) It was really very nice of them to mow our lawn for us - nor was it the first time they've done that - so neither of us has been able to bring ourselves to mention the mistake to them. I searched the Internet for information about how Datura responds to coppicing - which is pretty much just a fancy word for "being run over by a lawnmower" - but I found nothing. Having waited a few weeks, however, I now have some information to contribute: Datura survives coppicing just fine. Both plants have produced new leaves and are well on their way to full recoveries.
Although having one's plants get damaged is never fun, watching them successfully recover from damage is one of the most marvelous aspects of gardening, in my opinion. Not just in the case of the Datura, but always. The native serviceberry I bought last month lost every single one of its leaves due to the stress of transplantation and over 100-degree temperatures, but now it has sprouted a whole new crop of bright green leaves to replace the ones it lost. It looks as good as new.
Perhaps this sort of thing helps me feel more optimistic that maybe, when my current period of unemployment is eventually over, I'll be good as new too. It doesn't really feel that way at the moment, when it appears so much as if I'm likely to have to take a significant pay cut, a significant increase in commuting time, and a significant decrease in job satisfaction to find any new job at all, but I suppose I can't really know for sure yet what sort of job I'll eventually end up with.